Summer Travel Bucket List: 8 U.S. Places to Visit Before Labor Day

Here's why this is the precise right time to go.

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are located in swaths of temperate weather all year round, so it doesn’t matter when you go. But for other destinations, it does matter — and only a summer visit can guarantee a warm and wonderful experience. For these epic destinations in the northern United States, tis the season to visit... and the time is ticking. So get out those summer travel bucket lists — and get to booking these trips before Labor Day!

1.  Alaska’s Midnight Sun

If you’ve ever wanted to spend a long summer day immersed in the beautiful outdoors, and finish off your adventure with a nightcap view of the midnight sun, Alaska should be your destination this summer. Whether you choose an Alaskan cruise, a mainland trip, seeing Alaska's "midnight sun" is something you won’t soon forget.

2.  Philadelphia's Buzz

Depending on who you ask, Philadelphia might just be the new Brooklyn. With a slew of New Yorkers heading toward the city just beyond its ‘burbs, Philly is buzzing more than ever. Combine that with the fact that it’ll be the home of a major political convention this summer (the DNC, to be precise) and you’ve got a city that’s bursting at the seams with traveler-ready activities, which come to life in the warmer weather.

3.  Assateague Island’s Ponies

Take the cool opportunity the warmer weather presents to lounge on a beach or hike alongside some wild ponies on Maryland’s Assateague Island. Known also as the Chincoteague Ponies, these feral beauties are an attraction for travelers far and wide.

4.  Detroit's Renaissance

While it’s true that Detroit — still recovering from its notorious troubles — isn’t for every kind of traveler just yet, it is ripe for the curious and offers more luxe options than you might think. The city is experiencing a renaissance — and if you’re a fan of art, innovation, and some perhaps surprisingly pretty views of Lake Huron under the summer sun, the time to check out Detroit is now, as the city enters its own period of figurative spring.

5.  Montauk's Summer Vibe

As everyone who has seen Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind knows, wintery beaches have their charm. But a place like Long Island's Montauk really comes to life in the summertime, when the surf-style living is easy. The beaches are beautiful and the laid-back vibe feels distinctly different from the nearby Hamptons without sacrificing luxe options like fine dining and upscale lodging.

6.  Martha’s Vineyard's Storybook Setting

Dreaming of a quaint and relatively faraway New England island where you can spend your days leisurely yachting? Go to Martha’s Vineyard! The trek is worth the experience and the ferry ride from Cape Cod is easy. While some folks live there year-round, MV shines brightest May through September. 

7.  Portland's Eclectic Offerings

Portland’s been buzzing... and it’s still buzzing. The City of Roses certainly comes into full bloom when the sunshine is more prevalent, and the options for travel in the region couldn’t be more sweet. From fine dining to some of the finest outdoors offerings, Portland is eclectic, vibrant — and at the height of its game right now.

8.  Isle Royale's Wilderness

This extraordinarily epic outdoors destination is for those willing to go rustic: The top-of-the-line outdoors gear you have will take you a long way on Isle Royale, but without much in the way of traditional lodging options, you wouldn’t go to Isle Royale if you just wanted to stay inside. Instead, take the opportunity to backpack around the wild territory where you may encounter moose or even one of the few but famous wolves, kayak around the island, or paddle in the various lakes throughout the island — and take in the sight of the Northern Lights with an unobstructed view if you’re lucky. 

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